ISLAMABAD: President Trump’s speech, in which he accused Pakistan of not adequately acting against terrorist sanctuaries on its soil, was roundly condemned in Pakistan, and the National Security Committee initiated a review to finalise the strategy for dealing with the US ahead of Mr Asif’s upcoming visit to Washington.
Answering the US, Pakistan said that the onus of satisfying Washington about its concerns was not on Islamabad, the media reported on Thursday.
“We are here to give our point of view logically and with evidence. We will explain our position. But it’s not for us to satisfy them,” Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir told reporters on Wednesday at the defence ministry.
The government was currently “reassessing ties with the US”, and has simultaneously undertaken a regional outreach ahead of talks with the US on future bilateral engagement, he was quoted by Dawn as saying.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, after accompanying Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to the UN General Assembly session in New York next week, is expected to visit Washington for a much awaited meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Mr Asif’s meeting with Mr Tillerson was originally scheduled for mid-August, but was postponed on Pakistan’s request after US President Donald Trump’s policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia.
The statement was seen as demeaning to Pakistan, dismissive of its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and indifferent to Pakistan’s security concerns.
Despite all reservations, however, consensus generally exists here at all levels that a rupture in relations with the US is not an option.
Mr Dastgir said the two countries needed a frank and candid dialogue on the issues concerning them, as differences between them would reflect in Afghanistan and other regional issues.
The Minister expressed discontent over the US not sharing Pakistan’s threat perception about India “which is not only indulging in warmongering but also building up its military capabilities”.
He also noted that a nexus between the US, India and Afghanistan in Kabul threatened Pakistan. “The US knows all, but ignores the threats faced by us because of its strategic interests.”
He said Pakistan would keep raising concerns about India in future engagements with the US. “The US cannot ignore the threat to us from India. It is a serious situation,” he added.